Cape Town – First National Bank on Monday strongly denied allegations that its latest brand campaign is a “treacherous act” against the government or the country.
FNB said it is disturbed by these allegations on what is a positive message and believes its 2013 brand campaign – You can Help – has been misinterpreted by the ANC Youth League.
The ANCYL on Monday said FNB has “shown its true colours” with this campaign.
“The intention is clear and the enemy is unmasked. For years, South Africans have implored those fortunate enough to have global links to refrain from speaking ill of our country.
“Today, FNB is bold enough to take off its nameless and faceless mask and show the extent it is willing to go to undermine the gains of our democracy and the legitimate, democratic government of the people,” said the ANCYL.
FNB chief marketing officer Bernice Samuels said the bank’s only intention with the campaign “is to provide a platform through which we believe, as South Africans, we can use the power of help to make a positive difference in building a stronger, unified, values based nation”.
FNB’s ad campaign features a speech by a 17-year-old student lamenting a multitude of problems, including greed and poor education that plague the country nearly 19 years after the end of apartheid.
Student Kelly Baloyi urges South Africans to overcome "greed, mistrust" as well as "petty politics" and rampant illiteracy.
In the strongly worded statement the ANCYL called upon South Africans to “close ranks against what is (a) treacherous attack on our country".
“South Africa is not unique nor is it immune to the challenges facing the global economy and it is disingenuous for FNB to attempt to be a messiah instead of providing concrete solutions to the challenges confronting our nation” said the league.
The league also called the advertisement "treasonous" and labelled it a "lame attempt to recreate an Arab Spring of some sort in South Africa".
The league accused Chief Executive Michael Jordaan of hiding behind the “faces of young, innocent children” and using them for “the whims and entertainment of capital to drive what is undoubtedly a treasonous agenda”.
The league said it calls the campaign “alleged”, because “until now, we find it impossible to believe that a bank formed and sustained by the hard work and toil of the South African people could so crudely turn on the very people who guarantee its livelihood.
“Allegedly, because it is intolerable to attempt to understand why First National Bank would agitate to destabilise the very same country that, through its many tribulations and triumphs, has afforded FNB a safe and secure environment from which to conduct business, prosper and grow.
“Allegedly, because young people are used in a callous and cruel manner, and we have to wonder whether indeed its Chief Executive, Michael Jordaan, would not have the courage to face the nation, the government and the ANC, when he agitates for an overthrow of our government.”
The ANCYL said business as a whole has more than enough platforms from which to raise any issues with the ANC government and there is no basis for such insults and treasonous attacks on our government.
Samuels said it was not FNB’s intention to attack the government or the ANC but rather to call on every South African in a practical and meaningful way to play their part in helping to create a better South Africa.
“FNB commissioned an independent survey, which highlighted that 70% of the youth are positive about the future of our country.
“We undertook this exercise as we strongly believe that the children of South Africa have an important voice and are critical to the country’s future success. Every interview was unscripted and uncensored – they are very much ‘from the heart’ of each child speaking.”
Brent Tollman from creative agency MetropolitanRepublic echoed that the campaign was designed to have a positive impact.
"We want to participate in the social dialogue of the country and we want to have something meaningful and positive to say that can hopefully have an impact," he told AFP.
Samuels said FNB hoped that South Africa will embrace the ad campaign and its intended message of helpfulness.
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